Cookbook Review & Recipe: Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings + Cream of Broccoli Soup

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If you have been following the blog for a while and/or if you know me in real life, you know that I’m pretty obsessed with holidays. I adore the way widely-celebrated days or seasons bring a collective buzz to daily life. I love the way decorations spruce up a space. I love the way they inspire a creative outfit (or five). And I love, love, love making theme-appropriate food to share with others during the holiday celebration.

So it should come as no surprise that I was delighted with the opportunity to review Lindsay Nixon’s Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings cookbook. A couple years ago, I got to interview Lindsay about her last cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore, and knew I would be in for a treat with this new collection of vegan recipes.

The first and most prominent thing about Lindsay’s recipes that always stand out to me is that they are incredibly accessible. Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings, like all of Happy Herbivore recipes, reflect an approach to veganism that, to me, feels like a perfect bridge from omnivore life to plant-based life. Lindsay doesn’t rely on fancy ingredients (no incredibly expensive “superfoods,” no plethora of fake meat), nor does she try to create things that stray too far from an omnivore diet. For example, Lindsay includes things like tacos, potato salad, chili, and veggie slaw. In short, this is a perfect book for new vegans and great recipes to make and share with skeptical omnivores.

The book is organized perfectly to my seasonal and theme-loving sensibilities. Lindsay divides her recipes into twelve different sections: Thanksgiving; Winter Holidays; New Year’s Eve; New Year’s Day; Tailgating & Appetizing Parties; Romantic Occasions; Brunch; Breakfast in Bed; Easter & Passover; Picnics, Barbecues & Outdoor Parties; Kid-Approved Parties;  Large (&Mixed) Crowd Entertaining: Party Bars. Each section is filled with sides, drinks, main courses, and desserts. She also includes a section called “The Pre-Party” which features  thorough information about planning for big meals and celebrations (and a guide on how to use her recipe icons). There is also an appendix at the end that features Holiday FAQs, menus, glossary of ingredients, and kitchen prep lingo. Whew! That’s a ton of information in one book; it’s a truly handy addition to a cookbook collection.

Because I got this book last month, I experimented most with the fall and winter recipes. I made a batch of the Soft Molasses Cookies to share at a holiday party, and they were a hit! The use of white beans gives it a hearty taste without needing any gluten-y flours. And with the help of so-good-for-you molasses, the sweetness is pleasantly subtle. The same day I baked those, I enjoyed Lindsay’s non-alcoholic hot toddy! Some of my other favorites from the book include the creamed kale, breakfast muesli, and the apple jack smoothie. There were also a bunch of recipes that I book marked for later because they look and sound SO GOOD: the “Cheese” Ball (tofu and chickpeas make the base); Kidney-Bean Quinoa Burgers; Chocolate Truffles (made with beans!); and the West African Peanut Stew. (I could keep going–there are a ton of really delicious sounding things in here!)

I really love the concept of this book, and all the recipes I tried really delivered in terms of taste. The only negatives of the book are just about my personal preferences: there are quite a bit of recipes that include gluten (not a big deal if you don’t have a problem with gluten!), and although she avoids fake meats and weird hard-to-find foods, she does use things like vegan yogurt and vegan mayo (which she also provides a recipe for) that I just try to avoid in my cooking. But, like I said, it really is a perfect “gateway” cookbook and I definitely recommend it to new vegans.

The nice folks at BenBella Books were kind enough to let me include a recipe from the book. Technically this Cream of Broccoli Soup is from the spring holiday section, but I think it would deliciously warming for the winter months!

Cream of Broccoli Soup photo

photo from Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Serves 2

I like to call this “Use Up Your Leftovers Cream of Broccoli Soup” because your leftover rice or baked potato is the secret “cream” ingredient.

2 ½ c broccoli (fresh or frozen), divided

2–3 c vegetable broth

1 small onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

½ c cooked rice or potato, chopped

1 c nondairy milk

basil or thyme (optional)

nutritional yeast, to taste

fresh lemon juice (optional)

red pepper flakes or black pepper for garnish

  1. If using fresh broccoli, remove the tough lower stalk but chop the other stalky parts.
  2. Line a large pot with vegetable broth and sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent.
  3. Add 1⁄2 c broth and cooked rice or potato and let simmer until rice is waterlogged and extra liquid has all or mostly cooked off; if using potato, cook until potato is very soft and tender. (If using a raw (uncooked) potato, this may take longer and require more liquid then if using a leftover already cooked potato, such as a baked potato from the night before.)
  4. If using fresh broccoli, add another 1⁄2 c broth and broccoli, and cook until broccoli is very tender. (Note: If you want a soup with broccoli pieces, scoop some out before they’re waterlogged and very soft, and set aside to stir in at the end.)
  5. If using frozen broccoli, add broccoli at the end as the rice is finishing up (omit extra 1⁄2 c broth—just a splash will do) or cook briefly in microwave and add to soup with no extra broth.
  6. Transfer soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree with nondairy milk, plus additional broth as necessary to achieve a soup consistency. You can also add fresh or dried basil and thyme, plus salt and pepper to taste here.
  7. Return blended soup to your saucepan and let simmer, adding nutritional yeast to taste.
  8. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over soup before serving, if desired, and garnish with red pepper flakes or fresh black pepper.

Per serving (with rice): 168 calories, 1.8g fat, 33.9g carbohydrates, 4.4g fiber, 4.3g sugars, 5.7g protein

 Per serving (with potato): 149 calories, 1.8g fat, 30.3g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 5g sugars, 5.8g protein

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Note: I received a complementary copy of the book to review, but all opinions are my own! 

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Hope you enjoy the soup and hope you might check out the book for you or gift it to someone you know! Happy New Year! xoxo 

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